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Shoalts: Hiring Hitchcock would be a panic move for MacLean Add to ...

If Doug MacLean hires Ken Hitchcock to coach the Columbus Blue Jackets, then it will be clear the Jackets general manager knows his job is on the line this season. MacLean has not had much success in his five-plus seasons as president and GM since the Blue Jackets were admitted to the NHL as an expansion team. Even worse, the Minnesota Wild, admitted at the same time as Columbus, have done far better. Nevertheless, when it comes to coaches, MacLean is the micromanager's micromanager. Word around the Blue Jackets is that Gerard Gallant, allegedly fired on the orders of team owner John McConnell, could not make too many decisions without MacLean's approval. Hitchcock is supposed to be the top choice for the vacancy and the Philadelphia Flyers have already granted permission for MacLean to talk to him. But if he agrees to go to Columbus, Hitchcock will never agree to clear almost every decision with the boss. As anyone who knows him knows, Hitchcock runs his teams his way and his way only. So if MacLean hires him, then he is well aware that only a playoff berth will save his own job at the end of the season. Then again, MacLean said as much the other day when he was asked if McConnell said he was on notice. "They (the owners) haven't said that, but I don't think there's any question that that's the way it is," MacLean said. Hitchcock said on Thursday he is interested in the job but has yet to hear from MacLean. He also is not worried about the GM's reputation as a meddler. "To me, the working relationship with the GM is everything," Hitchcock said. "I'm not very tough to get along with. I don't concern myself with people's reputations. "I remember, when I went to the Flyers, what [former GM]Bob Clarke's reputation was. It turned out to be nothing like that, so I don't believe anything when it comes to reputations." If the actions of interim Blue Jackets coach Gary Agnew are any indication, MacLean will be talking to Hitchcock shortly. Agnew declined to move out of the office for the two Blue Jackets assistant coaches and down the hall to Gallant's old office after his promotion.


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